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04 Apr 2013

The Horror, the Horror: 'The Host' Is a Time-Sucking Debacle

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Jake Abel and Saoirse Ronan in The Host. Jake Abel and Saoirse Ronan in The Host.

Hey, kids who are aspiring filmmakers: Gather around, because Uncle Bob has got something to tell you. OK? Now, listen up.

I want you to go and see The Host as soon as possible, because it is an important step in your moviemaking education: The Host is the quintessential example of how to make a movie so shitty that Satan would actually turn his nose up at it and proclaim it too profane for his torture cineplex in hell.

This movie is based on a novel penned by Stephenie Meyer, writer of the Twilight things and, at this point, one of my sworn enemies. Nothing good has been produced from this writer’s works, and I want her to take up full-time bowling or stenciling to distract her from her computer. Seriously, Stephenie … you have a lot of money now. Please … have mercy on those of us who can’t handle your pap. Stop hurting us with your crazy words and ideas.

The Host leaves the land of sparkly vampires and journeys to a future Earth where aliens have invaded. These aliens are CGI, super-white, flowing clusters of psychedelic sperm. They look like the end result of a Daft Punk robot ejaculation. (Daft Spunk?) These aliens have traveled through the universe, “bonding” with species by entering through cuts in their necks and turning their eyes a very light blue.

In the opening moments, we see Melanie (Saoirse Ronan), a human resister being cornered by alien-infected humans, chief among them being The Seeker (Diane Kruger). They give chase, and Melanie plunges through a window to certain death.

Sadly, for Ronan, Melanie lives on: Her life is saved after a Tiger Woods-looking dude puts an alien in her neck. She becomes Wanderer (later, Wanda) and seems in line with the alien plan for global domination. But, wait … Melanie is still inside her head, and Melanie has got some whining to do about the body-being-dominated-by-an-alien thing.

Watching Ronan having arguments with her inner voice is trash cinema at its acrid apex. It reminded me of All of Me, that movie in which Steve Martin’s body got possessed by Lily Tomlin. While Martin did a fine job arguing with the voice within, Ronan sounds like a really whacky teenager with voices in her head.

Wanda winds up with Melanie’s still-human uncle (William Hurt … oh, it’s so sad to see you here) somewhere in the desert. Her uncle and his followers eventually accept Wanda (or the possessed Melanie) as a friend and family member. She entertains the advances of two boys (Max Irons and Jake Abel). One is Melanie’s old flame; the other is a dude who just thinks alien possessed girls are super-hot.

Andrew Niccol, who made the decent Gattaca but also made the awful In Time, directs. In Time was visually unimaginative and sterile, as is this film. Shiny cars and white suits are the accouterments of choice for the aliens, and nothing could be more boring.

Poor Saoirse Ronan. Here’s a young actress with the talent to command great roles, and she finds herself in this swill. Sure, her peeps probably thought getting her a gig in the latest film based on a Stephenie Meyer novel would be a sure thing. It’s actually one of the biggest creative bombs of this decade, and will do nothing to move her forward. Ronan has chops, and she doesn’t deserve this. (On an optimistic note, Ronan is in Wes Anderson’s next film, The Grand Budapest Hotel. Perhaps this will help get her back on track. Anderson is reliable, and surely he will find something to do with Ronan’s talents besides allowing her to argue with herself for two hours.)

I value my minutes here on this Earth. I consider each minute a precious little diamond nugget that I will never get back. Therefore, I don’t normally wish for these minutes to pass me by quickly. I like to savor them. But When I was watching The Host, I found myself wishing I was some sort of amazing Time Lord who could grab the minutes in The Host’s remaining running time and squash them to death, resulting in their passing without me actually experiencing them.

Alas, I just sat there, watching The Host, jaw agape and eyes glazed over, aware that some moments on this Earth aren’t precious. They aren’t precious in any way at all. 

The Host is playing at theaters across the valley.

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